Personal ads. They’re … personal! Very.
This is not going to come as news to anyone but I’ll just say it anyway: lately I have been releasing and releasing and releasing and releasing, and not much else.
I mean, it’s a lot. It’s about as much as I can handle.
It is the month of Releasing in the year of Releasing, and there is so much to learn to let go of.
And thank you.
“Thank you for having been. Thank you for exiting my life. Thank you for being done.”
This has been my mantra lately. It’s what I whisper in my heart to everything.
To the food scraps that I put in the compost bin, to each memory as it comes up or doesn’t, to more papers into the recycling bin, to the early-early-morning nightmares, to phone numbers, to the contents of the flushing toilet…
Goodbye and thank you. And goodbye.
It’s funny how hard this is, this process of releasing.
It’s funny how this is something everyone knows: letting go can be absolutely agonizing, and yet somehow we keep collectively forgetting this over and over, and then being surprised about it.
Possessions get layered with emotional attachment, with fragments of memory and identity and oh-but-what-if.
I know with absolute certainty, for example, that I have zero interest in attending graduate school in this lifetime.
And even if I were to change my mind some day, I’m still pretty sure I don’t need this stack of papers on the table in front of me right now proving that I have a degree in History from Tel Aviv University, and that I apparently also passed an academic German language exam (that I have no memory of taking) qualifying me for god knows what.
None of this is my YES, and yet here I am, reluctant to let these go. Reluctant to let past-me go.
“It’s hard to close doors, even if they’re not necessarily ones you’d want to open,” says my lover, who is wise and sweet and often right.
This feels true.
Closing is like admitting out loud that you aren’t going to do the thing you didn’t want to do anyway. And hoping that past-you isn’t listening. Or, really, hoping they know how much you love them.
I still feel great love for the passions, desires and yeses of past me, even as my now-yes changes to meet the present moment.
The closing of the door isn’t a NO to them. It’s a YES to now.
And it’s still hard.
Easing and releasing.
This is the year of releasing but really it is the year of Easing & Releasing.
These go together.
The easing is the softening, the smiling, the recognition that shutting this door is the best possible thing I could do right now.
The easing is when you don’t try to exhale everything, you just let yourself breathe.
The easing is when you allow yourself to be comforted.
The easing is when you say, YES ALL THIS GRIEF HURTS AND THAT MAKES SENSE AND THAT IS OKAY AND I DON’T HAVE TO LIKE IT.
The easing is permission and sweetness, acknowledgment and legitimacy, the hug before the storm and everything that comes after.
It’s one hundred degrees in Portland so I’ve been in the basement where the cool air is, going through boxes.
Goodbye, goodbye, bullshit yoga teaching certificates from various trainings over the years: I don’t even believe yoga can be taught, never mind certified.
Though yes, I still secretly teach yoga inside of every blog post I write, just by being and practicing — well, if by yoga we mean “the art and science of slowly and patiently getting to know yourself and meet yourself with love, to the best of your ability”, which of course is what I mean and what I have always meant.
And even if I were to return to “teaching” a physical practice, I wouldn’t need the certificates. In all my years of instructing in multiple countries, no one ever asked what my credentials might be, never mind if there’s proof that I have any.
Let’s not forget either that none of the people issuing these certificates are certified, for added ridiculousness, and also sometimes the certifying organizations they represent don’t even necessarily exist.
Which makes it even funnier that I hold onto them.
I have a yoga teaching certificate here signed by the Israeli Yoga Federation Honorary Secretary For The Middle East, President and Founder, etc etc.
Things that make this extra-funny/not-funny-at-all, in no particular order:
- This person hired me to teach yoga at his studio before I had any training at all.
- He made up all of those titles.
- There was no federation. It was just him. He got to be the honorary secretary for the Middle East by going to some yoga conferences with his made-up titles on business cards, and convincing some other organizations that were also mostly self-invented that his made-up thing was a thing too. This was literally a case of just one guy. Fake Band Of The Week: For Your Self-Aggrandizing Pleasure. It’s just one guy.
- It is laughably easy to become president, founder (and honorary secretary!) of pretty much anything you want and then put that on a certificate which no one will ever ask to see.
- This person sexually assaulted me while I was working for him, which, for the record, is not a yogic thing to do*, and also not befitting of someone who (even if only in his mind) represents a) yoga, and b) all of the middle east. Whoosh, goodbye.
- I know all of these things and yet I still hold onto this piece of paper in my basement: how’s that. Realizing this makes me want to burn it, to burn lots of things, to smash all the plates. Whoosh, GOODBYE.
Our culture lacks rituals and resources for grief, for endings. We lack everything when it comes to loss.
My mother died in October, and every once in a while someone asks how I’m doing, but mostly they don’t.
I get it. It’s awkward and uncomfortable, and we just don’t have a way to talk about these things.
All around us people are experiencing loss and trauma, and there are no mechanisms in place for checking in with each other, for taking care of ourselves.
Look at how our culture does holidays, how we exclude the people in the most pain and celebrate the people who either aren’t in pain or are best at hiding it. Look at facebook or twitter or instagram on Valentine’s Day, Thanksgiving, Mother’s Day, etc. We live in a culture that celebrates the haves, and silences the have-nots.
No wonder it’s so damn hard to let go of things. Pain and trauma and hurt get erased in daily life. People post pictures of happy things, and of sandwiches. Not the aching goodbyes.
And that’s just the grief we do know how to talk about.
But — as far as I know, at least — there’s no Hallmark cards for most of the tough things anyway.
There is no card for “Hey, I heard that your mentor just publicly trashed you after you devoted ten years of your life to promoting his work, that sucks and I am so, so, so sorry, how can I help?”.
There is no card for “I know your giant business venture failed spectacularly and you were left with nothing, and I still love you and want to be supportive, how are you feeling today, can I make you soup and hold your hand while you cry”.
There is no card for “wow, the person we all thought was treasure turned out to be an abusive asshole, so glad he’s out of your life, but that has to be really rough, I love you so much and I’m sorry this happened”.
Of course there isn’t. It’s weird and awkward and what are you going to say.
This is a wish about easing and releasing, about finding the grieving rituals that are right for me, about throwing and smashing and letting go, about presence, about enoughness.
I asked my lover if there’s anything he wants to keep, while I’m getting rid of things, maybe for when we build a place in the desert, if we do that.
He said: “You. A bed. That’s it, really.”
I know he only added the part about a bed for my sake. When I met him, he was sleeping in tents and on floors. I’m the princess who needs things like sheets and pillows. But yeah, he’s right. Love, napping, sweetness, falling asleep with my head on his shoulder and his fingers tangled in my hair, that’s enough.
And I say that while fully aware of the nine boxes full of papers, binders and unfinished projects sitting next to me.
Whoosh, goodbye. It isn’t always easy. The releasing needs the easing.
Rituals can be joyful.
I forget this and yet it is true.
There isn’t a one right way to release.
Whoosh goodbye can be so many things. It can be cathartic, it can be loud or quiet, it can be a softening and a surrendering, and it can be an emphatic, unapologetic smashing of plates. It can happen with laughter, with tears, with companionship, with steady knowing, with the superpower of All Timing Is Right Timing.
I am rereading Refuse To Choose by the brilliant Barbara Sher, whom I love so deeply and once promised to let live in my basement when she didn’t know what she would do when she retired.
All the more reason to say whoosh goodbye to those boxes.
I want to share this quote with you:
“When you lose interest in something, you must always consider the possibility that you’ve gotten what you came for; you have completed your mission. … That’s why you lose interest: not because you’re flawed or lazy or unable to focus, but because you’re finished…”
Here’s to the superpower of things being enough, here’s to the superpower of knowing what can go.
You are invited to say WHOOSH GOODBYE to whatever you like, and you do not have to share what that is, unless you happen to feel like it. You are invited to take breaths of easing and releasing. You are invited to make up rituals for grieving, for letting go, for whatever you like.
While in the basement, I found some old Fluent Self calendars from 2012 and 2013, ones we couldn’t sell because of things like dirt spots on the back cover. Each has TWELVE delicious qualities (one for each month) along with marvelous superpowers, and gorgeous, inspiring images.
I think these would be great fun for cutting up and Reflecting (shhh, it’s collage), or making Wish Boards of Yes, or choosing qualities to make your own compass.
I will mail one or both calendars to anyone contributing $20 or more to Barrington’s Discretionary Fund this week, just give me an address!
Yay, and then I will recycle what is left, if anything is left, and we are Easing and Releasing together. This feels good to me.
I am sitting on the couch in my living room, and it is so very hot. Ice packs on rotation. Oh, and I stole the spray bottle of water that my housemate uses to spritz the plants in the kitchen, and every couple minutes I take off my glasses and just go wild with it.
I pretend that the spray bottle is filled with qualities, like the salves in the Friday Chicken.
I am spraying myself with Pleasure, with Sweetness, with divine Comforting.
Me: Hey, slightly-wiser me, what do you have for me?
She: You let yourself go on Shmita, and look at all the things you are letting go of that you never thought you would let go of. Maybe Easing is the secret ingredient.
Me: That, and saying WHOOSH GOODBYE.
I accidentally wrote EASTING instead of easing and only just caught that.
East is PRESENCE, LOVE, HORIZONS. That’s what I put in the compass.
So. Easting my way into easing means breathing in more of that.
Also it rhymes with Feasting, which is a marvelous form of ritual. What if not all grieving rituals need to be about letting go? Some could be about imbibing, taking in comfort and nourishment, all the healing that comes from receiving. I need to remember this.
The superpower of I am stronger than I think.
I could be reminded of this superpower every day forever, and still be grateful.
Thank you. WHOOSH, GOODBYE. I am stronger than I think.
Things I find helpful for intentions and wishes…
Adventure. Rest. Horizons. Security. Passion. Sweetness. Clarity. Presence.
Progress report on past Very Personal Ads.
So. Last week aka current ops…
I loved this wish. It helped me stick with things that had a charge for me. It helped me go to bed and say yes to my yes, and hey, I emptied out six gigantic boxes from my basement.
Thank you, process of writing about wishes. Thank you, me who asked.
Keep me company! Or just say hi!
You can deposit wishes, gwishes, personal ads, superpowers, qualities, seeds, secret agent code, whatever you’d like, there’s no right way! Updates on past experiments are welcome too, as is sharing anything sparked for you.
Comment culture: This is safe space for creative exploration. We are on vacation from care-taking and advice-giving. We are here to play and throw things in the pot! With amnesty. Leave a wish any time you want.
Here’s how we meet each other’s wishes: Oh, wow. What beautiful wishes.